My keys seemed to disappear well more often before I bought a drop bowl near the entryway of my apartment. The bowl itself is a brightly colored woven construction which I am almost certain’s purchase benefited a worthy cause in a foreign country, though I couldn’t tell you which now. The bowl is just large enough to play catch-all to the contents of my pockets on a regular basis, but compact enough that it doesn’t overcrowd the table top it sits on. Before the bowl arrived, leaving for any period of time usually meant that I would need to search through various pockets around articles of clothing; a pair of jeans, a fleece jacket or two as the weather turns cool, and glance around the living room for any signs of my unofficial “janitor-approved” stack of keys. (2 out of 3 janitors agree, those are some keys!)
I have keys which I no longer even know what they open nor why I have them on the ring. I tried decluttering my life a bit after watching the Netflix show with Marie Kondo, but apparently the heft of metal that stays in my pocket or clips onto my beltloop didn’t get a review. I guess, in a way, it sparks joy though I try and avoid placing it around electrical currents.
As often as I would momentarily lose my keys, finding them always felt like a reward that I earned, as though being able to leave for work was an accomplishment. The shimmer of the find has not dulled since the bowl arrived, but then again, I am not always consistent about dropping my keys in at the end of the day. What can happen, and routinely does in the event that I misstep and forget to drop my keys, is I automatically go back to places that I remember thinking they may be. Almost as real as where they actually lie are 3 or 4 muscle memories that maintain in my brain. I coast through the motions, hoping to find that sweet reward of finding what I had set out to obtain.
In the desert, long has the phenomenon of Mirage, a naturally occurring optical illusion in which light rays bend to produce a displaced image of distant objects or images in the sky remained. Traveller’s in the widespread sand find themselves mistaking heat rising from the ground as bodies of water or as an oasis from the heat. Honestly, it doesn’t take being in a sand dune to experience mirage; on a hot enough summer day, Texas asphalt has a similar property, and what rises might appear a similar oasis.
Recently, I found an actual Oasis in Driftwood, Texas in Desert Door Distillery, proud producers of Texas Sotol. For the uninformed, as I was before taking a little time to get to know the company, there is a long history of a spirit distilled from a plant native to West Texas and Northern Mexico. The Evergreen Sotol Plant, or Desert Spoon, was long ago cultivated into fermented mash and ultimately a smooth and sip-able spirit. While lobbyist for other more well known spirits moved into prominence over time, production of the Sotol plant did not stop completely. Instead, most of the production occurred outside of the United States.
However, the United States is back on board in a big way with a company like Desert Door, who was kind enough to show me around their production areas as well as teach me about their history as well as the plant’s.
What felt extremely right about walking into their tasting room on a random weekday afternoon was a distinct feeling that I had stepped into West Texas, where the Sotol is found as is ethically and selectively forested. Root systems are left intact so that the plants can regrow. There was a musician performing acoustic melodies as I arrived strumming lightly on a guitar as another small group came in to unwind after work. Driftwood is a much shorter drive than making it out to Big Bend, a place that I absolutely love, and the company is in some really great hands; folks passionate about reintroducing us to what they have, but more so in the connections formed in sharing a drink and conversation.
The site has a tasting room, tours available, and pretty soon will also have a beautiful event space for booking small parties. You can find more out about the plants, process and the great people behind Desert Door here. Additionally, you can use their site to find their products at a vendor/distributor near you as well as recipe suggestions. Pictured below is a secondary shot I took from the tasting room, with a harvested Sotol plant on the far left, a couple of cacti, some reading material, a familiar boombox and the final distilled product.
I chose the track this week “Living Mirage” from The Head and The Heart from the LP of the same name as the song. Originally, I thought about Guns N’ Roses “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, but made a call to switch it because, what Desert Door really exudes to me is a feeling that people are the same wherever you go. There may be minuscule details in the way we fashion our clothes, the drawl of our speech, or the music we listen to; but at our core, I truly believe that the world is filled with good people just trying to work hard, enjoy our lives and share a little bit of company.
I don’t know that finding such a place of respect and gratitude for the moment has to be a far off vision, or mirage, if we are all able to drop the ego at the end of the day. Maybe in a brightly colored woven bowl, resting near the front door of our homes.
Full disclosure: This is not a paid ad. I genuinely enjoyed the experience of learning more from their team, but I should let you know that I was sent home with a 750 mL bottle of their Original Sotol. It has been a joy to consume in moderation in the privacy of my home and with friends.